KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: FIFA claims it really does need to keep $1.523bn in reserve in case of a worse-than-rainy day despite the insistence of three presidential candidates that much of this is ‘dead’ money.

The issue of the world federation’s economic policy has become an item in the presidential election in which long-serving president Sepp Blatter is being challenged in May by Prince Ali of Jordan, Dutchman Michael Van Praag and old Portuguese superstar Luis Figo.

FIFA’s accounts for the last four-year World Cup, as approved by this week’s executive committee meeting on presentation by finance director Markus Kattner, made impressive reading.

Revenue, generated mostly thanks to the World Cup, over the four years was $5.718bn, derived 43pc from TV, 29pc from marketing and 28pc from other sources. Expenditure added up to $5.380bn, creating a surplus of $338m.

The expenses included 28pc to operating expenses including staff salaries and tax while finance director Markus Kattner said that the majority of 72pc had been invested in football projects. This included $2.224bn in running the World Cup and $1.051 on football development.

FIFA had reserves of $1.523bn, a sum which has been criticised by Blatter’s rivals as excessive.

Kattner said explaining the reasoning behind the need for such a sum was complex but Blatter had no reluctance about setting out the case.

He said: “We have these reserves in case, for whatever reasons, a World Cup cannot be played in the [scheduled] year. We are now in a situation regarding the World Cup in 2018 when there are a lot of rumours; we also have the 2022 World Cup but hopefully now it wil calm down.

“So, if we don’t have the World Cup in one particular year we need $1.3bn to go on with our development programmes and the other 300m for competitions such as the under-20s and under-17s.”

Salaries remain confidential despite pressure on FIFA for several to clarify the remuneration packages for Blatter and his senior officials.

The financial report states only that $36.3m was paid in 2014 to “members of the executive committee, the finance committee and the FIFA management, in particular the directors.”

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